Empowering You Beyond Birthing: A Guide for new Parents on Postnatal Well-Being and Equal Parenting by Dr Mahima Bakshi opens the dialogue for equal parenting and talks about postpartum and postnatal care for both the child and parents. An excerpt:
When it comes to feeding your little one, there are many options you can choose from. While some might suggest opting for formula feed,
some might give preference to expressed feed. Remember, World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. The important question here is how to decide. Speak to your doctor about it and stay in touch with a lactation expert.
Breastfeeding needs to be initiated as soon as possible ‘Exclusive breastfeeding for six months best for babies everywhere’, after the delivery. The golden period is within one to two hours of natural delivery and four to six hours of a C-section. Breastfeeding can prove to be very challenging for some mothers, especially those who have undergone a C-section, as the stitches restrict movement. You will have
to be extremely patient. Also, don’t forget that your baby can take time to learn. So, it is absolutely okay if a few feeds don’t go well in the initial days. Just keep practising and let your baby try.
Breastfeed whenever your baby needs it. Watch for the hunger cues—when your baby is hungry, they would try to make lip smacking sounds, put their hand into their mouth or try to open their mouth and move their neck towards left or right trying to search for your breast. These signs mean that your baby is ready for their next feed. In case you don’t pay attention to these on time, they might get cranky and start crying—their way of telling you that they are hungry.
First, calm down your baby and then help them latch on to your breast. Try to pay attention to the early hunger signs and feed them on time to ensure they do not turn excessively cranky. It can take you some time to understand the different tones of your baby’s cry. Check the diaper. They might be feeling too hot or too cold, might be gassy or just in need of some attention. If the baby does not feed for as long as two to three hours during the initial days, it is best to wake them up and try to feed them. Long gaps between two feeds need to be avoided. Frequent feeding also helps in enhancing the milk supply and in preventing engorgement by emptying the breast on time.
You would be getting loads of different suggestions from different people. Remember, just because something worked for someone’s baby, doesn’t mean it is advisable to be followed for your baby too. Listen to what your doctors tell you rather than getting carried away by too many suggestions. Not doing so will lead to confusion and you will lose the confidence to bring up your own baby, especially if you are a first-time parent. Following what your lactation expert teaches you would be the best. Practise breastfeeding your baby in their presence before you get discharged from the hospital and stay in touch with them even after you get back home. Your baby would show growth spurts around
two weeks, two to three months and six months. Your baby would keep demanding feed all the time during the growth spurt. It can be very tiring and stressful, so meet your lactation expert at these stages. They will guide you on how to manage the feeds as well as your baby.
While breastfeeding, it is important for new mothers to know that they are doing it right, so that the confusion as a result of too many suggestions can be avoided. During the early days, only allow your lactation expert to be around you while you breastfeed. Tell your husband that you expect some privacy at home while breastfeeding during the early days as you want to practise and gain the confidence. Lesser
the number of people who watch you breastfeed, lesser the number of suggestions. And once you have mastered the art of breastfeeding through practice and with the help of your lactation expert, you will feel more confident about doing it the right way. Thereafter, the uncalled-for suggestions wouldn’t affect you much.
You also need to ensure that your baby gains proper weight for which they must get foremilk and hindmilk, as both are important. Foremilk is richer in water and is released in about the first 10 minutes of the feed. It helps the baby in maintaining hydration. Hindmilk starts getting
released 10 minutes after the foremilk and is richer in fat, protein, carbs and vitamins. Hence, to ensure that your baby gets both, you must breastfeed for at least 15–20 minutes on one side, and shift to the other breast only when the baby does not seem to be full. It also helps in preventing breast engorgement.